Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 5 (Body Heat)

Before I get too deep here, I should remind you readers that this review of Lawrence Kasdan's script for Body Heat will contain spoilers.

I enjoyed this script and I have not seen the movie but I probably will soon. However there are some things wrong with this version of the script, and indeed every version I could find, unless I am an idiot for being confused by this.

Toward the end of page 26, I am suddenly treated to a few scenes from Dick Tracy and then we're back into Body Heat. Now, it doesn't seem like anyone suddenly flicks on a television to suddenly watch these scenes. I don't know if this is a scene accidentally pasted in from a Dick Tracy script, and considering Dick Tracy came out nine years later, the blame is probably wholly the transcriber's.


A block away from the station, the patrol car races toward an intersection. Suddenly, a WOMAN steps into the street, pushing a baby buggy. Pat slams on the brakes, and the car skids sideways toward the intersection, where it rocks onto two wheels and stops just a few yards short of the buggy. Sam sticks his head out the window.


Are you crazy, lady? Didn't you hear the siren?

The woman dives to the ground as the BABY sits up in the buggy -- he is a midget with a cigar in his mouth and a tommy gun in his hands. Pat jerks Sam to the floor just as the midget opens fire.

Anyway, I'm fairly certain these scenes aren't meant to unfold within the story of Body Heat, and if they are, they at least deserve a mention somewhere in the remaining 94 pages.

Another, possibly misplaced scene interrupts Racine tracking down Matty in Pinehaven. At one point he is pulling into her hometown, then he's suddenly back at home with another woman, then back to Pinehaven. Wah?


Racine drives past a neat sign -- "You are entering PINEHAVEN Please drive carefully" There's money here. Many of the homes are not visible from the street -- only their gates announce their presence. Those that can be seen are sprawling and lavish. The Waterway appears to the left. A large white yacht cruises slowly by.


Racine sits in bed smoking a cigarette. At the mirror, a Nurse in a fresh white uniform steps into her white shoes and begins attaching her cap with bobby pins.


Dark. Almost classy. The place is half full. Matty is drinking at the end of the bar, her cigarettes next to her glass. The bar chairs near her are empty.

I guess it makes sense that he could be casing the town, then head home for a sex break, and then head back, but I don't see how it adds to the character other than, for the first time, indicating a womanizing tendency that is barely touched upon again. All in all it feels like something that was plugged in later to flesh out the character.

Of course these appear to be specifically technical issues. The script itself is very solid and the many twists and turns caught me off guard again and again. It stays true to its noir roots, almost to a fault at the film's conclusion.

I almost would have preferred a break from tradition at the end where the person the protagonist has ultimately accused is not the mastermind, which would not have been especially difficult. Instead it closes with a bit of a ham-handed stolen identity routine involving a character we had the pleasure of knowing for about four seconds in the first act.

Still the dialogue is consistently engaging without ever seeming "on the nose." For the most part, the atmosphere of the film comes across vividly in the action lines. I was sitting in an air-conditioned apartment for my entire reading but I felt like I was sweating through the whole thing with Racine in the sweltering Miami humidity.

Here's an example of one of my favorite lines, and there are many more where this came from.


Hey, now I want to ask you something, Are you listening, asshole, because I like you?

(Racine nods)

I got a serious question for you. What the fuck are you doing? This is not shit for you to be messing with. Are you ready to hear something? See if this sounds familiar. Anytime you try a decent crime, there is fifty ways to fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them you're a genius. And you're no genius.

Tune in tomorrow for my reading of some obscure film called Fargo by a couple of one-hit-wonders who called themselves the Coen Brothers.

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